The Sony DSC-HX1 is the big S’s all new bridge camera, designed to span the gap between a compact snapper and a full-on interchangeable lens DSLR. It comes equipped with an epic 20x optical zoom lens and a brand new Exmor CMOS sensor, meaning it easily gobbles up 9-megapixel stills and full HD video.
The plastic-bodied Sony DSC-HX1 is light and compact, but sits comfortably in the hand with all main controls in easy reach of your digits. Round the back you’ll find a tiltable 3-inch LCD screen, plus a digital viewfinder (dead useful on sunny days when the screen is trickier to see), while a flap on the underside takes both the battery and a Sony Memory Stick Pro card. A flap down the side takes care of a proprietary output for USB 2.0 and HDMI, plus a DC power input.
There’s a variety of shooting modes on offer, from high speed 10fps continuous snapping (at full 9-megapixel res, no less), fully manual, aperture and shutter priority for creative shooting to specialist modes like Sweep Panorama. This allows you to hold the shutter button and sweep the Sony DSC-HX1 in a vertical or horizontal arc; it then automatically stitches together the ten snaps it’s captured to serve up a pretty nifty panoramic shot. It’s a neat, handy feature that you won’t find on any rivals. Compared to most DSLRs even, the DSC-HX1 is a mighty tasty piece of kit.
The 20x zoom gives you a massive range (equivalent to 28-560mm in 35mm camera terms), allowing you to snap a wide angle landscape one moment and close in for Wayne’s World–esque extreme close–ups the next. Built-in optical stabilization keeps things steady even at full zoom, so you don’t have to worry too much about the shakes after a heavy night out.
Still picture quality is decent, particularly at low ISO settings. The snaps look sharp with natural colours, but in low light situations noise begins to creep in. Having an option to shoot to RAW would have made this issue less significant (you could reduce noise using Photoshop), but Sony has decided to stick with JPEG only, alongside its built-in Bionz engine and noise reduction tech.
HD video can be captured at 1280 x 720 (720p) or 1440 x 1080, both at 30fps. Results are detailed and crisp, and the built-in mics capture stereo sound to boot.
The Sony DSC-HX1 is a killer bridge camera capable of fulfilling a huge range of snappers’ needs – a cracking camera to have in your bag when you’re not sure what you’ll be shooting.